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324                              THE GAY GENIUS

is right: The days and nights are continuously causing our destruc-
tion by using up our energy. The great thing is to prevent this
waste/ "

Behind the coastal towns the island was inhabited by the Loi tribes,
whose relations with the Chinese settlers were far from cordial. The
tribes lived in the tropical mountains which, in a later day, served the
Japanese army for training in jungle warfare for some years before
the Pearl Harbour attack. The natives did not know any writing, but
were simple, honest souls, often cheated by the more cunning and
civilised Chinese. They were lazy at farming and depended on hunt-
ing for food. - As in some parts of Szechuen and Fukien, it was the
women who did the work while the men stayed indoors to look after
the babies. The Loi women chopped firewood from the jungle and
carried it to town for sale. All metal utensils such as axes and knives,
all grains and cloth, salt and pickles were imported from China, and
they traded for these things by offering turtle-shells and aloes wood,
which was a costly incense extensively used in China. Even rice had
to be imported from the mainland, for the native inhabitants ate taro
and drank water for their meals, the food that Su Tungpo also had
to take in winter when the ships carrying rice from. China did not

The people were highly superstitious, and a medicine-man looked
after the diseases instead of a doctor. The only way the islanders knew
to cure a disease was to pray at the temples and offer cows in sacrifice.
As a result a great number of cows were imported annually from the
mainland to be slaughtered for this purpose. As a Buddhist, Su Tungpo
tried to change this custom, but of course customs could not be changed
easily. He wrote:

"The people of south China think nothing of killing cows, and
this is especially true of Hainan. Merchants transport these cows, a
hundred in a ship, to the island. Sometimes they die of thirst and
hunger on the voyage, or perish in a storm. When the cows embark
on a ship, they moo pitifully and shed tears. After they arrive, half
of them are used for tilling the fields and half of them for slaughter.
When the people fall sick, they do not take medicine but slaughter
cows as sacrifices to the gods, and sometimes a rich family will kill
several dozen cows in the hope of curing a disease. Whenever a
patient gets well, they give credit to the priests, but forget about all
those who fail to recover and die. The priests, therefore, are their
doctors and the cows are their medicines. Sometimes when a patient
takes medicine, and is found out by the priest, the priest will tell
him that the gods are angry at him. So they allow the patient to